Leukemia is a type of cancer that causes bone marrow to make abnormal white blood cells. These abnormal cells eventually crowd out normal blood cells in the bone marrow and lymphatic system.
There are different types of leukemia, including the following:
- Acute myeloid leukemia (AML), the most common type in adults
- Acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) is a type of AML
- Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)/small lymphocytic lymphoma (SLL)
Signs You Should Get Help for Leukemia
During the early stages, you may have very mild symptoms and may not require treatment right away. In the advanced stage, leukemia symptoms include the following:
- Pain or a feeling of fullness below the ribs
- Fatigue or low energy
- Easy bruising or bleeding
- Frequent fever or infections
- Shortness of breath (dyspnea)
- Unexplained weight loss
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, contact your doctor as soon as possible so you can be evaluated.
Leukemia Treatment at Rush
There are a variety of treatments for leukemia. Rush hematologists (blood cancer specialists) will work with you and each other to design a personalized, supportive treatment plan for you that may include one or more of the following treatments:
- Observation, with regular testing to monitor your condition
- Chemotherapy, using drugs that damage or kill abnormal B lymphocytes
- Targeted therapy, using monoclonal antibodies to target specific markers on leukemia cells
- Surgery to remove your spleen if it is enlarged
- Follow-up care to monitor your condition
- Stem cell or bone marrow transplantation, which may be an option if your leukemia is not responding to other treatments
Inpatient Leukemia Care at Rush
Typically, you will receive your leukemia treatment as an inpatient in the hospital. Your team at Rush understands the personal challenges of an inpatient treatment plan. And, they are dedicated addressing not only your physical needs, but also the emotional stress and anxiety that come with intensive inpatient care.
We will also work closely with you and your loved ones to make your transition from inpatient to outpatient care as smooth as possible. We have a dedicated nurse coordinator who will help coordinate your follow-up appointments and guide you through your outpatient care.
Rush Excellence in Leukemia Care
- Nationally ranked experts focused on you: Rush University Medical Center is ranked among the best in the nation for cancer by U.S. News & World Report. Our cancer specialists welcome your questions and will work with to create a personalized treatment plan to treat you.
- Multidisciplinary leukemia clinic: Most of our leukemia patients will receive care through The Coleman Foundation Comprehensive Leukemia Clinic. In the clinic, your care team — which may include hematologists, bone marrow transplant physicians, radiologists, pathologists, radiation oncologists, advanced practice providers and others — bring their collective expertise together to develop an individualized treatment plan for you.
- Care when you need it: Because time is of the essence when it comes to starting leukemia treatment, you'll be able to see a Rush hematologist within 24 hours of scheduling an appointment. We also work with closely with our emergency department and referring physicians outside of Rush to ensure that patients who need to transfer their leukemia care to Rush are seen as quickly as possible.
- Access to clinical trials and personalized medicine: Rush cancer specialists are known for pioneering research and some of the most advanced leukemia treatments available — including targeted therapies, immunotherapies and stem cell transplant — with high response rates. For instance, as confirmed by the Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research, the survival rate for the first 180 days after stem cell transplant at Rush is 100%. You'll also have access to clinical trials at Rush that are looking at novel approaches for treating leukemia.